You can celebrate this downtown marketplace’s first birthday with these 8 artists

Artist shops help launch East Dayton Arts District

Mosaic artist Jes McMillan is convinced that when members of a community get together to create art, wonderful things can happen.

In 2015, McMillan began collaborating with lots of community organizations when she opened the Mosaic Institute in Miamisburg. Now she’s at it again with the creation of Crane Studios Market, a complex of independent art businesses that is marking its one-year anniversary this month. The shops are open on First Fridays and Saturday afternoons.

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McMillan says her goal was to establish a marketplace where creative people could open their dream businesses and sell what they love directly to patrons.

“In a year, the market has exploded and is blessed by the presence of so many wonderful people and amazing artists,” she says. “We have become a team, promoting one another and working together to improve the Crane Market experience for our visitors and to deepen our impact in Dayton’s arts community.”

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McMillan is passionate about promoting awareness of an East Dayton Arts District and is busily working on a mural across the Keowee and First Street train overpass that will serve as an entrance to welcome visitors to the area that includes a number of other art studios and shops.


For Amy Dallis, the interest in photography took root in 2001 when she began working behind the scenes in a film production company.

Dallis, who likes the challenge of using her iPhone 7 to produce high-quality photos without fancy lights and equipment, shoots subjects ranging from landscapes to architecture and cemeteries. “People are usually amazed when I tell them the images in my studio are shot exclusively on a mobile phone. For me the transformation of a photo from good to great happens in the editing process. I use the free app Google Snapshot for most of my editing work.”

Her photos range between $10 and $100.

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Mikee Huber is a Dayton native and Wright-Patterson Air Force Base graphic designer who expresses her creativity in watercolor and oil pastel floral drawings, hand-stitched woven bead jewelry, photography and beaded gourds.

Her current artistic obsessions are the oil-based multimedia abstract paintings which she refers to as “Controlled Chaos.” Contrary to most “Do Not Touch” art, Huber urges visitors to touch her glossy paintings, then enjoys their surprised reactions when something that appears to be smooth turns out to be textured and others that look textured, feel smooth. Her art is created with tongue depressors, toothpicks, eyedroppers, and tweezers. She then adds layers of paint, glitter, glue and foil leaf.

“When viewing my paintings, some may see geodes, seascapes or a microscopic organic new world where others may remember their grandmother’s garden,” says Huber, who is inspired by scientific images. “I enjoy interpreting and re-imagining factual data into colorful realms of possibility.”

Prices range from $24 to $1,200.

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If you're in search of handmade stationery items — cards, gift boxes, books — stop in to meet Wendy Wagener-Harris. The artist, who is also a Miamisburg High School teacher, works from her studio in Xenia as well as at Crane.

“I have been completely in love with paper collage for the past couple of years,” she explains. “My images come from old books, magazines, junk mail, catalogs and other ephemera that come my way daily.”

First, Wagener-Harris spends hours cutting out images with no definite plan in mind. “After a while, pieces seem to speak to each other, relationships start to form. I love the idea of creating my own puzzle. My goal is to create a surrealistic atmosphere, an imagined landscape that could be amusing, enticing or contemplative.”

Her prices range from $3 to $1,000.

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Lea Ridenour, a French immigrant who has lived in the United States for four years, operates "Made Au Gold," a brand which she says is "seeking to empower women by providing an outlet to express themselves." The idea is to make "cool things for cool people who are not afraid to raise their voice."

With degrees in fashion marketing, graphic design, and illustration/communication, Ridenour draws on her tablet or computer using programs such as Photoshop and Illustrator. Her online boutique sells apparel, enamel pins, patches, jewelry, art prints and stationary.

“We are focusing on girl power, tackling social and political issues, as well as self-love and mental health,” she says. Many of her items incorporate slogans such as “Up to No Good” or “You Totally Got This.”

Her products have been featured in national magazines and are sold at retailers across the nation. A portion of the profits go to non-profit organizations. Prices are $2-$28.

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Self-taught artist Nicole M. Scott runs CoCheil ARTS, which sells original drawings and paintings, framed prints of her work and handmade products from African countries — masks, dolls, instruments, health and beauty products, clothing and jewelry. Scott also runs an online store.

“I planned on obtaining a fine arts degree in motion picture production, but life took me in another direction when I was diagnosed with a rare chronic disease,” says Scott, who is currently pursuing a graduate degree in creative writing and has published several books under the pseudonym CoCheil. Her favorite style of art is landscapes and surrealism. Her artwork runs from $40 to $400.

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If you're a lover of items made of handcrafted wood, you'll want to check out Martin's Custom Slabworks where Martin Unrau Perez creates small boxes, lamps, end tables, dining tables and desks.

“I work with natural edged slabs — thick cuts of work that retain the natural form of the tree,” he explains. “I focus more on the wood’s innate beauty, character, and form rather than imposing an external design on it.”

Most of the wood comes from Ohio. In addition to resin, Perez often adds mica for an iridescent quality and he has also used sand and gravel for texture. Prices range from $50 to $3,000.

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You may meet the whole family at Ixchel Studio.  Audrey, 11, makes kids' jewelry; Marcos, a Stivers student, loves photography. Joe Downing is a writer, whose book "The Abundant Bohemian" is about the pursuit of an artistic life while balancing job and family. Shop owner Ileana Del Campo-Gray worked as a graphic designer after moving to the United States from Mexico and is currently training to do upholstery and sewing/embroidery. She sells furniture and embroidered baby mobiles, as well as neckties.

“I had been following the beautiful upholstery work an acquaintance was doing in Mexico and decided to go that route,” she says. “I found it very exciting to learn a skill that would follow in the steps of my family — my grandfather was a skilled carpenter and my mother was a self-taught seamstress. Once I finish my training, I will have furniture with embroidered artwork as well.”

Her inspiration, says Del Campo-Gray, comes from places she has traveled. She especially loves the creatures from medieval bestiaries. Prices at the shop range from $35-$80.

The new art space is a boon for those in search of one-of-a-kind handcrafted items and for the artists as well.

“It’s funny how most people think of artists as loners,” she says,” but I’ve found the opposite to be true. Some of the best ideas come from the friendships I’ve made at the studio. It is the perfect environment for making, appreciating and exploring art in every form.”


What: Crane Studio Markets, a complex of art businesses in the East Dayton Arts District. An anniversary celebration will be held from noon to 5 p.m. on Saturday, Aug 11. Visiting artist for the month is Tom Gilliam, who is presenting his photo series of the Arcade. An artist talk and bourbon tasting is slated for 3 to 5 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 18.

Where: 221 Crane St., near Taqueria Mextica, between Harshman Street and Terry Street. Crane runs parallel to First and Second Streets. Free parking on the street.

Hours: Regular hours for the market are First Friday evenings from 5 to 9 p.m. and from noon until 5 p.m. on Saturdays.

More information: Check out the Market's Facebook page or Appointments can be made with individual artists through their Facebook and Instagram pages.

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